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Her Cowboy Distraction

By:Carla Cassidy

Her Cowboy Distraction
Carla Cassidy

       The Cowboy on her Bucket List

She'd been watching the handsome rancher for a while, just a lone cowboy  eating pie with an empty chair beside him. One night, Lizzie Wiles,  Cowboy Café's feisty new waitress, went over and dared to interrupt his  tortured solitude. Daniel Jefferson seemed shocked by her boldness as he  buried himself in guilt over his wife's mysterious death. Lizzie tried  to penetrate his gloom, but in the end, found herself falling in love.  Having plans to leave town, she didn't want to think of these  consequences. Worse, someone really wanted her to disappear-now!  Attacked and warned to leave, Lizzie had every reason to go...but she  had one undeniable reason to stay.

"I need to get upstairs and take a shower."

"Yeah, I need to do the same," Daniel replied.

"We could always shower together and save water."

She had to be joking, Daniel thought. But as he turned and looked at  Lizzie there was no teasing light in her eyes. It stole his breath away.

She took a step closer to him, her whiskey eyes inviting him to imbibe,  to become intoxicated with her. "I didn't tell you about one of the  things on my bucket list."

"And what's that?" he asked, aware that his voice sounded half-strangled with his need of her.

"To make love to a man I'll never forget. I believe that you're that  man, Daniel. I want to make love to you, and when I leave here I'll have  the warmth of that memory of us together to carry with me for the rest  of my life."

Dear Reader,

I can't think of anything more distracting that a hot and sexy cowboy  with a hint of darkness in his eyes. In Her Cowboy Distraction, my hero,  Daniel Jefferson, is that man.

There's something enduring and solid about a cowboy, and I love writing  cowboy heroes. This is the first book of a series that centers around a  café in the small town of Grady Gulch, Oklahoma.

Daniel Jefferson has suffered enormous tragedy in his life and has no  desire to ever reach out for love again. Lizzy Wiles is a woman on a  mission and isn't ready for a relationship with any man. But when she  breezes into the Cowboy Café to take a waitressing job and becomes the  target for a killer, her world collides with Daniel's in a way neither  of them could have expected.

I hope you enjoy reading Her Cowboy Distraction as much as I enjoyed writing it.

As always, thanks for your support.

Happy reading!

Carla Cassidy

Chapter 1

Lizzy Wiles blew a strand of her long brown hair away from the side of  her face as she poured George Wilton another cup of coffee. "How's that  meat loaf?" she asked the old man, who seemed to wear a perpetual frown  every time he came into the café. She already knew what the answer would  be because they had had this same conversation every Friday night for  the past month since Lizzy had started working as a waitress at the  Cowboy Café.

"Dry. The meat loaf is always dry," George grumbled.

"George, every Friday night the special is meat loaf, and every Friday  night you come in here and order the special. Why don't you try  something else if you don't like the meat loaf?"

George's grizzled gray eyebrows pulled together across his forehead.  "But, I like Mary's meat loaf. It's just dry. Why would I want to order  anything else?"

"Just asking," Lizzy replied with a wry smile as she turned to put the  coffeepot back on the burner. She grabbed a clean wet towel to wipe up  one area of the long counter and gave a quick glance at her wristwatch.

Quarter to seven. On Friday and Saturday nights the café stayed open  until midnight. For the rest of the five days a week the usual closing  time was ten o'clock.

Lizzy came in at two in the afternoons and closed six days a week. She'd  blown into the small town of Grady Gulch, Oklahoma, a month ago and had  decided that the Cowboy Café was the perfect place to accomplish two of  the items on her bucket list at the same time: meet a cowboy and work  as a waitress in a small café.

Mary Mathis, the pretty owner of the café, had taken Lizzy under her  wing, not only giving her a job but also a place to stay in one of the  four small cabins directly behind the restaurant.

As she wiped the counter she glanced around the café. The dinner crowd  had finally thinned out, and for the first time she felt as if she could  take a deep breath and slow down the crazy pace she kept up from four  to about six-thirty each evening.

She checked her watch once again. Five minutes and he'd walk through the  door. Every Friday night that she'd worked there he'd always arrived at  precisely seven o'clock.                       


He always sat in the same place, the third booth next to the window.  Lizzy worked the counter, never the booths. She'd asked Candy Bailey,  the waitress who worked the booth section of the restaurant, what she  knew about the lone cowboy, but Candy had been working at the café only a  few weeks longer than Lizzy and didn't know anything about him.

Not that Lizzy really wanted to know any intimate details about him. It  was just idle curiosity, that's all. He was hot and handsome and always  alone. It was just interesting. Still, at seven o'clock when the little  bell over the door tinkled and he walked in, Lizzy's heartbeat quickened  more than just a little bit.

He was a tall drink of water clad in a worn pair of jeans, which hugged  his slender hips and long legs, and a white T-shirt that stretched taut  across his broad shoulders.

The first thing he did after entering the front door was remove the  black cowboy hat from his head and hang it on one of the many hooks that  were screwed into the wall by the door.

Mary Mathis had a rule in her establishment: no hats allowed while  eating. She'd made it easy with the hooks for the cowboys coming in to  abide by her strict rule.

Mr. Hot Cowboy's slightly unruly dark hair showed no residual effect  from having worn the hat. His hair held just enough lazy curl to make a  woman want to run her hands through it. Not that Lizzy would ever  consider doing that. It was just something she'd noticed.

She rewashed the counter area she'd just cleaned as she surreptitiously  watched him walk to the third booth, which had last held a rather unruly  family of four.

He sat, as he always did, on the side of the booth facing the door. He  never picked up a menu, and he rarely greeted anyone else who might be  in the café at the same time.

He was like an island unto himself, sculptured features set in granite  as he stared at the laminated tabletop as if it might hold all of the  answers to life's mysteries.

There was no question that he pulled a sharp physical response from  Lizzy. She'd been in town for a little over a month, and she definitely  thought he was the hottest thing walking in the small town of Grady  Gulch.

"Lizzy, order up," Mary's pleasant voice called from the pass window.

Lizzy turned away from the eye candy and hurried to the window that  separated the dining area and the kitchen. "Tell Fred that the steak is  grilled just the way he likes it, still half mooing on the plate," Mary  said. "And you can take a break if you want to. Things have slowed down  since the dinner rush has passed."

"Thanks, Mary." Lizzy picked up the platter that held a rare steak, an  oversize baked potato and green beans. She walked down to the end of the  counter where Fred Jenkins, who worked as the town's only vet, sat on  the end stool.

"Mary said it's still mooing, so you should be happy," she said with a  smile at the balding middle-aged man as she placed the platter in front  of him.

"That's the way I like it, either rare on the plate or healthy on the  hoof," he replied. "Hey, by the way, I've got a litter of schnauzer pups  I'm trying to find homes for. You interested in a puppy?"

"No thanks," she replied quickly, although her mind instantly filled  with the vision of adorable button brown eyes and sweet puppy kisses. "I  love dogs, but my lifestyle just isn't conducive to me having one.  Footloose and fancy-free, that's me. But, if you'd like, I'll ask around  for you."

"That would be great," Fred replied.

"Anything else I can get for you? I'm going on break."

"Nope, I'm good," he said. "Enjoy your break."

A few minutes later Lizzy sat at a table near the counter with a cup of  freshly brewed coffee before her. There was a small break room in the  back, but Lizzy rarely took her breaks there. She preferred to sit here  at the small table in the dining area and people watch … especially on  Friday nights when he came in.

She took a sip from her cup and glanced in his direction. Candy was in  the process of delivering his order. He always ordered the same thing,  two pieces of peach pie and one cup of coffee.